We are now nearly 3 months into our new lives in the Czech Republic, and so far our expectations moving in are pretty much matching reality and then some. We were expecting stress, confusion, and disorientation where things are different. But while those feelings are true for new expats, we've also been well taken care of by our church, the Pioneers team, and even our neighbors. Walking the streets, we've been praying to adopt the overall feel of our city, and we've noticed a drastic difference from the time we moved in until now.
Olomouc is a city of around 100,000 people, and a quarter of that consists of college students. So, during the summer months when classes are not usually going on, the city feels a lot less full. Even if you did not know this about the city, you could probably feel it by simply looking around. Something is missing. But now that the Fall season has begun, the city is now brimming with life again.
Speaking of students....After many many years of finishing the undergrad and graduate degrees, it would seem that school was behind me. Not so! We are both involved in language studies, but now I (Dan) am a university student again, devoting about 20 hours per week of class time to learn Czech. Pray for me, since they don't call this an intensive for nothing. And as Lisa and I would tell you, it is a very difficult language to learn from English, so your prayers are truly appreciated.
One of the things we have made a high priority for is making sure the kids are making friends and learning the Czech language. They are doing distance learning through the Academy for Classical Christian studies out of OKC, so much of their education exists at home with a quality curriculum. But to get the kids involved, we have found a Muey Thai gym for Andrew to attend and the girls will soon be starting gymnastics. And there have been a number of other International friends they have made through our Pioneers team, and other MK's. The creative opportunities to get the kids immersed are almost endless, so we're just experimenting along the way and seeing what God gives us.
Probably our greatest joy here has been connecting with our neighbors and opening our home for community to happen. Our neighbors have been incredibly inviting, and we have found good friends with a number of them so far. Some of them do not speak english, which is a huge motivator to get proficient in Czech, but some of them do, which has given us a lot of opportunity to get to know them better this early. So, they have been an immense blessing to us. We have a community group meeting in our home as well, which has been exciting to have both people from the church and the other parts of the area coming and exploring who we are in light of who God is.
Our church in Olomouc is still in the church plant stage, but we are seeing a lot of changes along the way, as we are apart of a broader network of churches here called the Majak network. This movement began about ten years ago with leaders desiring to see the Gospel as central to life and ministry and wanting to see that play itself out in the way more churches are planted. This last month was the big kick off for the next season where all of the churches came together to worship Jesus and share our common vision for the country. The video below shares a few Czech songs.
In the first month we were here, we showed up to church on a Sunday night, but the owner of the building forgot the Sunday we were supposed to meet, so at a last second change we had church in our living room. Flexibility is a core value of Pioneers, and things like that have opened up great opportunities to serve.
We have been honored to invest our lives to the local church here, and while we have already made great friends with many of them, tonight we made it official by becoming covenant members of Metro Church in Olomouc. This is our new home and this is the community that we will invest our lives in, as we work together for our mutual joy in Christ and seeking the welfare of our city.
"So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." ~2 Thessalonians 2:8